Managing ecosystem services at Loch Leven, Scotland, UK: actions, impacts and unintended consequences
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- May, L. & Spears, B.M. Hydrobiologia (2012) 681: 117. doi:10.1007/s10750-011-0931-x
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Rivers, lakes and wetlands are good examples of ecosystems that provide multiple, concurrent, services to mankind. Human society has often exploited these systems by enhancing one ecosystem service at the expense of another. Loch Leven, Scotland, UK, is a good example of this. Over the past 150 years, the lake has been subjected to hydrological modification, fish stocking and pollution control to improve the delivery of key goods and services. This study uses historical records to explore the results of these interventions on the ecosystem services that were targeted for improvement and the knock-on effects on other services provided by the lake. The results suggest that, when management changes are being considered to enhance particular ecosystem services, the potentially damaging effects on other ecosystem services should be taken into account. This requires a better understanding of the role of ecosystem function in delivering ecosystem services, and of the links between multiple ecosystem services, than is currently available. While further research is clearly needed, the value of long-term datasets in providing knowledge and understanding through ‘hindsight’ should not be underestimated. The study concludes that successful management actions are likely to be those that incorporate lessons learned from previous decisions.